ILOILO | Madge Cafe: Morning Jolt at Iloilo's Oldest Coffee Shop

Right after indulging on a bowl of savory Netong's La Paz batchoy for breakfast, I hit the narrow paths of La Paz Public Market aiming for a cup of just another star of the table. There was this no ordinary coffee shop at the heart of the wet market, famous for being considered as the oldest in Iloilo City. I'm not a coffeephile, but it has been my travel mantra that experiencing every destination's "most" or "-est" is a must; so there I was.

The author at Madge Cafe, Iloilo City
My cup of media tab-ang (mild coffee with milk)
My cup of media tab-ang (mild coffee with milk)

"Since 1940"; the menu header denotes how long Madge Cafe has been serving the Ilonggos and city visitors a steaming cup of wakey juice that's freshly brewed everyday. Native coffee beans, roasted then powdered, then put into boiling water make up the coffee base that's free of any artificial flavors. That's how simple Madge prepares its brew in a variety of coffee type that suits every customer. Well-loved for more than seven decades now.

Madge Cafe's barista preparing some brew

Madge Cafe has no sophisticated facade and interiors, not even air-conditioned. It presents a local market atmosphere with its monobloc chairs, ordinary dining tables, and other modest facilities a typical diner within a market entails. But on its wall hang with pride, a large mosaic of tawny newspaper and magazine clippings, and photos of the cafe's staff with TV show hosts that have featured the cafe.

Simple, artistic, and eco-friendly chandelier
Simple, artistic, and eco-friendly chandelier

Colorful mugs held in wooden shelves surround the cafe's mixing bar; each bears a person's name. Artfully imprinted names are either of the shop's frequent customers, or of prominent people who paid the shop a visit at least once—former Vice President Binay and former Puerto Princesa Mayor Hagedorn among others. These nominative coffee cups are not just for display but exclusively for its eponym drinkers' use every time they take a caffeine infusion at the cafe.

Madge Cafe's mixing bar
Madge Cafe customer's personalized coffee mugs

I'm not a coffee connoisseur. I'm not fit to say that Madge's versions of the caffeinated beverage helps them survive the years. But I must say that the staff's warmth and gratitude towards each guest would let them withstood another seven decades or more. We even had a short, frolicsome confab with Sir Peter dela Cruz — Madge's third generation owner who prefers to be called Noy — despite his busy morning.

With Peter dela Cruz, grandson of Madge Cafe founder
With Peter dela Cruz, grandson of Madge Cafe founder

Price of coffee (hot or cold) starts at PHP 35 while breads starts at PHP 15. As affordable as that. Sir Noy playfully told us before we left, "o 'di ba? Isang Starbucks lang yan!", referring to our bill that costs only PHP 225 including 4 cups of coffee and slices of pan de ciosa.

Disclosure: I'm not in any way connected with business entities mentioned in this blog post. All views and opinions expressed are inspired by my own experience.


DJ Rivera is an I.T. professional, entrepreneur, travel blogger, writer and the online publisher of based in Rizal province, Philippines. Click here to know more.

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